Sworn VirginBook - 2014
Elvira Dones tackles cultural and gender disorientation and identity while seamlessly expanding upon immigrant and emigrant status and the multiple levels of transition. Mark's decision to shake off her oath after fourteen years and to re-appropriate what is left of Hana's body and mind by moving to the United States creates a powerful rupture. The transition to a new life as a woman striving to shed the burden of her virginity is fraught with challenges, and the first-generation assimilatedcousins with whom Hana tentatively undertakes her new life make her task no easier.
Sworn Virgin is the first novel Elvira Dones wrote in Italian. She adds her voice to the burgeoning new generation of "blended" Italians, who deliberately adopt a "dirty" immigrant/exile approach to their language.
According to Albanian tradition, if there are no male heirs, a woman can "choose" to become a man--and enjoy the associated freedoms--as long as she swears herself to virginity for life.
Clever young Hana is ushered home by her uncle's impending death. Forced to abandon her studies in Tirana, she takes an oath and assumes the persona of Mark, a hardened mountain peasant--her only choice if she wants to be saved from an arranged marriage.
Born in Durrës, Albania, Elvira Dones is a novelist, screenwriter, and documentary filmmaker currently based in the United States. After seven novels in Albanian, she wrote the two most recent in Italian, her adopted language. Sworn Virgin is the first of Dones's books to be translated into English.